Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Paris: shopping @ Agnes B., Muji, French Trotters

cardigan - Agnes B., dress - Muji, sweater - Levi's Made & Crafted

Of COURSE we shopped.  It would require super-human discipline for belovedest and I to stay out of stores in Paris.  Partly, of course, shops in Paris are a great opportunity to get some insights into the French aesthetic - the way the stores are arranged, the way the merchandise is displayed - it's just NOT like shopping in Chicago.

And then, there are some stores that just don't exist in Chicago - specifically Agnes B. (who had a store here which closed a few years ago), Muji, and French Trotters.  If I were absolutely forced to purchase all of my clothing from one store, it would be Agnes B.; her designs appeal to me completely.  And Muji is just cool - streamlined products of every possible sort.  French Trotters displays clothing in spare, carefully grouped assemblages of clothing that make every piece look irresistible.

Above, you can see what I purchased.  I'm going to buy a denim shirt, and a black sweater vest, and then I'm going to...

wait for it...

take ANOTHER year off from shopping!

This is going to be fun...

33 comments:

  1. My daughter bought that very dress from Muji in the Marais last summer. Hers is natural linen. Husband was on the long line for falafels.

    Love Agnes B, but have never bought a piece.

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  2. Haven't been in Agnes B. Thought it might be too young for me. I think there is one in one of the two malls that I visit on vacation.

    Another year without shopping. Don't think I can do that, but what if I track how long it is between buying excursions. I'll try to lengthen out the span each time. I am having fun using my clothes in different ways. Today, I've decided on a grey crewneck T with black jeans and a funky silver/crystal long necklace. And silver flats. Never did this combination before.

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  3. Lovely purchases, especially the cardigan. Are you going to continue with Project 333 during your shopping fast? And I will fast right along with you. Since I found your blog I have more less not shopped for months at a time, but broken the fast when travelling to a large city. I live in the rural south and that was my excuse. :)

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  4. How different from shopping with my teenage daughters! I guess it's their age -- quantity and bling are their trump cards!

    Seriously, a few questions:

    How would you handle a relative (This actually happened to me), who, at a Baptism asks, "Isn't that the same dress you wore to L's First Communion?" The Baptism and First Communion were a year apart. Yes, she's toxic, but she's part of the family....

    Second question: I have heard that pretty and popular European girls frequently wear repeat outfits during the same week. Is it true? That would be social death for my high schoolers. It would also acquire strange glances and comments at work, I think.

    Another one: How does the laundry situation work out for 'a few, well-chosen' items? If I wear a blouse on Monday, it goes into the wash after work. How do Parisiennes cope with laundry?

    Finally, changing sizes. As lifestyles change, so do our sizes, at least in my part of the US. Right now, I have one wonderful, thick cashmere sweater that wouldn't fit if I lost a lot of weight. It would be very spendy to replace, and so would other favorite pieces, if they had to be duplicated all at once. How do you handle weight gain or loss?

    Oops. One more. Wear and tear. I tend to wear out frequently-worn clothes in the same spots. For example, my LS shirts wear out at the cuffs. Does this happen to you? And, if so, do you just trash the item? Or do you search for fixes?

    Jora

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    1. (1) Answer to the relative: "Thank you for noticing - it's one of my very favorite dresses!" It's her problem if she thinks wearing clothes more than once is a faux-pas, not yours. Maybe she'll start rethinking the idea of having to have a brand new garment for every event...
      (2) I don't think anybody at my work would even notice if I wore the same thing every week. Do you remember what the person two offices down from yours wore last Wednesday to work? Again, if this is a concern for them, it's a problem that they need to solve in themselves, not something that you need to accommodate in order to "please" them.
      (3) I'm not sure how Parisiennes do their laundry, but I do mine every weekend - wash on Saturday, iron or steam on Sunday. That way I can wear things week after week, until they fall to pieces.
      (4) I refuse to change sizes. If my clothes get tight, I cut back on food, and ramp up on workouts. My size is in my control. Having a lot of beautiful clothes that I don't want to have to replace is a GREAT motivator!
      (5) Some things just plain have to be replaced - tee shirts just go to pieces, things get stained etc. But I also try to be somewhat creative - having my dry cleaner "turn" the cuffs (i.e. removing them, flipping them inside out, and re-attaching them), but that's only worth doing if the shirt was amazing to begin with. Men used to have their collars turned routinely - what ever happened to that idea?
      Eventually, though, things have to be replaced - no wardrobe can be carved in stone. This is the opportunity to refine an item, to slightly shift a style choice, or to accommodate a change of coloring or preference to update your looks.

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    2. Thanks much for the detailed reply.

      And another question -- how much does fabric weight determine what season the item is worn? For example, would you ever wear a cotton twill jacket in winter?

      Jora

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  5. All bets are off when one is in a shopping destination like Paris. I do find it funny though that you went to Paris and bought Levi's!

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    1. I hadn't seen the sweater in Chicago, and frankly even if I had, it might not have been as easy to spot, because of the way that stores here cram clothes onto fixtures. The French Trotters store had at least 3 inches between each hanger, and two feet of hanging space in between each "pod" of 15-18 garments. It was heavenly to shop there!

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  6. I hope you post your denim shirt when you find it. I have been looking for the perfect denim shirt for a long time. My perfect is a dark indigo, lighter weight and has no front pockets. ( I am quite busty). So far, no luck!

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  7. Oh I adore that cardigan!
    Cannot imagine a year off shopping though....
    such discipline!

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  8. I'll be interested in the black sweater vest you select!

    By the way, you made great purchases! I can' wait to see how you put them together with your core pieces. Don't keep us waiting!

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    1. Oh yes, but not an Hermes. As soon as we have decent light, you will see it's beauty!

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    2. Oohh, now this is exciting news!

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  10. I love Agnes B so much! I mourn the Chicago store closings. Your restraint in your Paris shopping is unbelievable and commendable; I used to drop $$$ every time just on undergarments! And thanks to you I have begun rethinking my entire wardrobe and my shopping habits. So much so that I’ve purchased exactly one item in the last 3 months and it is a staple that needed to be replaced. So, thank you.

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    1. This blog is very good at that, isn't it?

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  11. Thanks for this Janice! I think I have been to the Agnes B in Chicago - my only experience of her. I agree with others that I am being much more thoughtful about my wardrobe after reading your work. BUT how do you handle messy stuff, or do you also have a few 'house clothes'. I am not seeing myself wearing my Agnes B to clean the barbeque etc... I am getting ok with my 'public clothes' but do you have a small group in the 33-ish for just doing 'stuff' that might be more messy baking, cleaning, etc etc. (Sounds stupid to ask...). And are you still going to chains for your basic t's etc - I recall you saying you buy several at a time on those. I do churn through those types of things more frequently but would like to find some in Australia that are better priced but last the distance - stuff is exxy here to start with but not much good lasting stuff either...

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    1. I don't think any question here is stupid! I have many myself here, always. I especially liked questions posed by commenter Jora above and I'd love to hear Janice's or anyone's answers to them! Thanks.

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    2. There are no stupid questions - especially here, among friends. Frankly, I'm quite fortunate in that I don't do a lot of messy work - I wear an apron to cook (after working for Williams-Sonoma, and then in a bakery, we have a couple of really industrial-strength aprons here), and I clean house in my gym clothes. And I will definitely go back to Lands' End when I need to buy tee shirts - they fit, they last a long time, they're a lovely soft fabric, and (unless I can find some made in the US), they will remain my favorites.

      Never EVER hesitate to ask questions. Anywhere, from anybody. A reluctance to answer questions is THEIR problem; the desire to learn and to know is YOUR gift.

      hugs all around,
      Janice

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    3. Land's End have *really* improved their styling and the quality of the tees (I buy the same ones) cannot be beat for the price. One of my Parisienne friends orders their jeans b/c she cannot find inseams long enough in France (she is 6')- and is always told how chic they are.

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  12. Oh, I've been eyeing that Levi's Made & Crafted sweater! I ended up buying the similar APC one (I think you even included it in one of your capsules recently) but at $415 it is stupidly expensive. But, very soft and actually fits my tiny frame. I thought it might be my only chance to own this style of sweater and not be swallowed by it, and I've always wanted one, so I went for it! Would love to see how yours looks on, if you feel like modeling!

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  13. I want to see what you do with the dress. I'm into dresses. I'll do some separates in a California (mild) winter, but it's dresses most of the time because we're warm weather people out here, as much as I'd love a four seasons at least once in my life.

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  14. Janice, your posts have been very inspiring to me. I often over indulge when shopping and have been trying to break the habit. I've always had this feeling that I never have enough to wear..which I know is nonsense. I've never been good at remixing...but have been learning through your blog and other's blogs. You last post about the "plan" really struck a nerve. What a great philosophy. I would love to embrace it; although I would have made an exception for that exceptional sweater!

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    1. The feeling of never having enough to wear...I totally "get" this. I worry that it points to some deep insecurity inside of myself (ya think?!!). I do recall my parents having a rough time; the business my young dad was partnering in burned to the ground and he had to find work all over again, two small kids, stay-at-home wife, new mortgage on the first house; no money. Mom would go to the 5&Dime every week, putting a dollar down on a modest school dress for me with annual class photos looming. The dress was plain; I hated it (not realizing what sacrifices Mom might have been making...she'd have under $10 for the weekly groceries; I remember in the kitchen cupboard seeing one can of tuna, one can of soup; it was THAT bad, til Dad dad got a new job). Mom grew up in the The Great Depression of the 1930s, so she had known deprivation, talking about it rather often to me. I grew up with the mantra of "we must always be prepared" and be dependent upon no one, lest we be obligated or not be able to reciprocate. That rainy day may come; that bad time could be near. Stock up when possible; don't be caught unaware. Use caution, be guarded, be careful. Unintentionally, I soaked up a certain level of fear, but it backfired somehow when I went hogwild with consuming as an adult, perhaps trying to break out of that chain of fear. Too much armchair psychology, and I'm not blaming; just trying to recognize...and change, improve; find the balance in there somewhere after years of dug-in-concrete behavior. Then again, maybe it's just me and an undisciplined personality, prone to excess! I always needed to know I had enough outfits for any occasion; oh, and luggage to put it in, preferably matching. But it went beyond clothes. Maybe it's also a little too much "me-generation" of the '70s; must do all these self-indulgent things before I get lovingly-noosed with a husband and kids...travel, have experiences, try every sport, learn to ride horses, or maybe sail a boat (anything is possible, the world is your oyster...a woman can indeed HAVE IT ALL!!). When I was finally pregnant after all of those delays, I had to stock up to make sure I had enough baby clothes for at least the first year of its life. (Not to mention upteen numbers of storybooks and toys.) "Must be prepared," for when we're down to one income; don't want the baby to be "without." Moving to a new(er) house, had to make sure I bought up ahead of time everything I'd need for new digs...in case I couldn't afford it later. (Yeah, right, sure as heck couldn't afford it, not when spending so much money in advance!) Be a good Girl Scout; preparedness, GONE 'WAY OFF COURSE. I'm always the little squirrel in the tree knot, in my little safe place with all the things I need around me, stashing my acorns for the winter, but it's nearly bankrupted me over too many years. (My husband actually does this with food, because his large family growing up often did not have much to eat; I have to remind him to not buy large quantities.) I write to illustrate (my worst flaws and weaknesses!!), what some of our problems might stem from beyond the glut of often-cheap and accessible and quantity-driven clothing options out there in years since we sewed our own (fewer) clothes and before we had malls and online shopping because, in the recognizing of it, it's easier to try to solve these lifelong issues...and heal. I'm just a amateur, taking in all the good advice I can get, re-learning to be conservative and sensible after a lot of nonsense. I love nice clothes; I just need to learn to love fewer nice clothes. We rein it in once we get older; less time seems to make for better priorities, and it's never too late to change.

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    2. I've often shared your feelings - I had a VERY limited wardrobe as a child, and they were mainly things handed down from an older sister with VERY different coloring and style. I continually remind myself that I don't need to be prepared with clothes; much wiser preparation would be a hefty bank account, an up-do-date skill set, and the ability to be nimble and flexible to handle what life throws at us.

      It's a journey, not a destination, and even small victories count. Hang in here with my amazingly kind and wise readers, and share your progress with us all.

      big encouraging hug,
      Janice

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    3. Vicki...you post is so relatable. I'm particularly struck by your comments about extending beyond clothes and into trying every new thing. This could have been written by me.

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    4. It's strangely comforting to know I'm not alone. Thanks for your compassion and for not judging me. I did grow up with a lot of hand-me-downs from cousins who were in a better financial position, so the clothes weren't bad, but they also weren't mine and it didn't feel comfortable (like rented clothing?). I also got hand-me-downs from an aunt's friend, who had daughters. Mother would take one of these dresses and de-construct it, laying down new dress patterns on the fabric to restyle it (it there was enough to do this; in previous years, fashions sometimes had big skirts and we would get these bags of formerly-worn clothing which had obviously been in someone's closet for quite a few years; very dated styles). Some of these "new" outfits I liked, because I chose the dress patterns myself at the fabric store which made the "new" outfit more my own (I had access to some great patterns beyond Simplicity or whatever those other long-defunct pattern makers were; I do remember Vogue...I'd go for Vogue!). Some of the fabrics were sumptuous, I remember a navy satin with red velvet cherries which made a nice dress for a school dance; also a turquoise shantung somehow spun with lime (sounds weird, but it was beautiful, and these were fabrics we could never have afforded buying off the bolt at the store). But this did contribute to my aversion of old and used items, no matter if it were clothes, furniture, china, etc. To this day, I really do not frequent the thrift stores but I also don't dare because the last thing I need to do, at the current time, is bring MORE stuff into my house. When I was growing up, we just never had "new." I can remember my parents buying a new sofa and it was like "the biggest thing" to happen to us. One of my aunts came to visit when I was 8 years old and, a couple of weeks later, I became the recipient of an entire suite of bedroom furniture because she thought I deserved a nice-looking bedroom (I do STILL have this furniture; seriously). So, I have no idea what was actually IN my bedroom (I'm sure a hodgepodge) to prompt such a generous purchase. Maybe this is why I get hooked on the shiny and new even now, because it still rings "momentous" in my brain, "new" being a rare occasion.

      I really didn't buy too many clothes with my own money as a young adult until several years into work life as I just wasn't accustomed to doing so; I'd rather instead travel or buy books, I was paying rent, buying a car, etc. (and I was quite sensible at the beginning). I must have felt secure and confident about how things were going, or else it just took that long to break out of my upbringing of frugality. I have to confess that some of the worst of my clothes consuming/buying happened in my early 30s when I purposely lost a lot of weight (I needed to; I was pudgy!) and hence became hypnotized by the wonder of wearing a Size 6. I had a big social life at that point in time, fun job and living in a resort town, so I can't exactly say I regret all of it and I really did live it up with great clothes on a fit & toned body but the money-spending, you know, was really not unlike a drug addiction. I wound that down and settled into a more staid, married life, but old insecurities returned (and sometimes a series of disappointments) which is when I think the over-consuming took over again and, well, we all have our background story and I'm just glad for THE NOW, because The Now is good and getting better.

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  15. Wow Vickie, that was very insightful. I have a similar mentality. I am trying to get to "enough" myself. That is why Janice's work is so inspiring to me. I seek multiples of most clothing "just in case". Opposing desires are at war in me and I am addicted to this blog because it's ammunition for the good cause of I have Enough. So many of us have been changing through this amazing blog. Janice you are very empowering! Thank you....again and again. Karen

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    1. Thanks, but I always write too much...and 'enough' with my long comments as I wind down from this subject! I'm ever mindful this isn't my blog, or Shopaholics Anonymous. I'm going back to appropriate-length reader responses to Janice's super-duper-wonderful posts and let other people 'talk' because I think I've spilled enough about my shopping issues. After all, this blog is fun and interesting, with pretty stuff and great ideas and I don't mean to be Debbie Downer. Yikes does it hit home, though, with the consistent theme of zero-ing in on the RIGHT stuff, in do-able combinations, to be clothed 365 days a year with great style, a fatter pocketbook, a decluttered closet and a calmer existence! Indeed empowering, Janice; thanks for helping us get back on course. A nod to Courtney over at Project 333, too, as I go back and forth between the two blogs. Even if I don't follow it exactly, and Janice has said more than once this is okay...and I like the reader comments about serendipity...333 certainly gets you on a better track.

      Can I just share one last thing, about serendipity; I love that word! I was on vacation and stumbled upon a shop with the most gorgeous, formal dresses (prom, cocktail and ball gowns). My eye magnetized on the most amazing, shimmery taffeta party dress of a ocean-colors/aquamarine I can't describe; this was 22 years ago and, yep, it still hangs in my closet and, yep, I've never worn it. Do I love it? Yes. HAD to have it. I'd walked away from it for a little bit and felt myself positively yearning for that dress. Wasn't even in the right size, but I bought it anyway! I could never exactly figure out WHY I loved it so much. Then, one day, probably 15 years later, I learned that Mattel had, in the 2000s, reproduced my beloved "Midge" (Barbie) doll from the '60s, titian-flipped hair and freckles, in her SHIMMERY TAFFETA PARTY DRESS OF A OCEAN-COLORS/AQUAMARINE I had forgotten about over such a long time from when I was a little girl. I was able to buy the repro doll in the secondhand market; I just about melted when I saw her as the memories flooded my much-older brain. Months later, I saw my fancy dress in the back of the closet and thought, "Nah, it can't be!" It wouldn't be that I'd bought the dress because of some pleasing childhood memory in a brain chip, would it? Did I buy a Midge dress and not even know it? How much ARE my emotions tied up in shopping?! A little more backstory: I was in high school, Mom got a bee in her bonnet about cleaning up/clearing out; I don't remember consenting (I'm sure I probably did), being an older teen who no longer played with dolls, but Mom sold my entire lot of Barbies to the mailman...the Dream House, Barbie & Midge & Skipper, their closet, all of the clothes and accessories (worth a bloody fortune in today's vintage collectibles). I instantly regretted it, and every time I saw that mailman, I didn't like him much.

      So, I'm waiting for the right person for the dress. I'm taking it temporarily to Mom's to store...ONLY temporarily!! Proms are coming up just six months or so from now, and I have an idea to get this dress to a high school girl who might not otherwise have her dream dress; it's in perfect condition, a timeless color, classic fabric and an ageless design, easily modified if need be by a good seamstress. I've got a "in" with the school principal (my former classmate); she'll know what to do. The Midge repro doll takes up a lot less space on a shelf than the dress does in my closet. It's time for this dress to shine!

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    2. Great idea for the dress. Around here there is usually someone collecting slightly used prom dresses - your unworn one will make some young woman very happy. Pay it forward.

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  16. Oh, Agnès b.! Started shopping there as a size 8-10 thirty-something, was addicted to those snap-front cotton cardis. But now, a size 14 (US) on a good day, cannot fit into a thing, and j'accuse: they have styled ever younger: 18 inch skirts, anyone? They are the locus of my fury re French clothes, too short and small for the average-sized (according to some stats) American woman. And let's not talk about the rise on pants.

    So in Paris I go nuts buying accessories and have found a few jackets... Glad you can buy clothes!

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  17. Wow Janice.. What beautiful new things. I Love the cardigan but can't tell what the color is. Off white? Beige? Very light grey? Can you tell us please? Thanks.

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  18. Thank you for sharing Vicki.

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